Enhancing the working memory of stroke patients using tDCS

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2009 May;88(5):404-9. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e3181a0e4cb.


Objectives: We investigated whether anodal transcranial direct current stimulation over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex affected the working memory performance of patients after a stroke.

Design: Ten patients (mean age 47.7 yrs) with cognitive deficits after a first-ever stroke participated in this single-blind, crossover, and sham-controlled experiment. Each patient was randomly assigned to undergo two transcranial direct current stimulation sessions: anodal dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and sham stimulation within 48 hrs of a washout period. All participants performed a two-back working memory task before and after the administration of the transcranial direct current stimulation. Accuracy (correction rate), recognition accuracy (correction rate-commission error rate), and response time were measured during each experiment.

Results: Repeated-measures analysis of variance indicated a significant interaction effect of transcranial direct current stimulation type and time on the recognition accuracy. Post hoc analyses revealed a significant difference between prestimulation and poststimulation in the anodal stimulation group but not in the sham stimulation group. Regarding the accuracy, the paired t test indicated significant improvement only after anodal transcranial direct current stimulation without a significant interaction effect between the two transcranial direct current stimulation types. The response time was not significantly different in the anodal and sham stimulation groups.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrated that anodal transcranial direct current stimulation over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was associated with enhanced working memory performance as indexed by the recognition accuracy in patients after a stroke.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / etiology
  • Memory Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reaction Time
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*